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Martin Darvill & Friends - The Greatest Show on Earth CD (album) cover


Martin Darvill & Friends


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4.00 | 26 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This ensemble from late-90's had to involve the biggest list of Neo Prog musicians ever appearing in the same album along with a shorter one full of rock veterans.It was led by Martin Darvill, who was a multi-instrumentalist but mainly a manager, member of the Music Of Life management, on which the album ''The greatest show on Earth'' was released as Martin Darvill And Friends.The participating musicians are countless, Nick Barrett, John Jowitt, Ian Gould, Clive Nolan, Martin Orford, Karl Groom, John Mitchell, Ian Salmon and Paul Wrightson all came of from the most significant Neo Prog acts of the period, but you should also count the presence of John Wetton, Don Airey, Al Stewart, Noel Redding and Kevin Jones to this list, linked to groups like The Who, Fairport Convention, Rainbow, King Crimson and Jimmy Hendrix Experience.Year of the album's release was 1998.

Musically this was definitely not ''The greatest show on Earth'' as its title suggested, but it is a very strong work with competent songwriting, interesting melodies and tons of atmospheric themes, somewhere between the classic Neo Prog sound and an AOR taste akin to ASIA or DON AIREY's early works.It unfolds like a dominant Rock Opera with Orford and Nolan providing some powerful and bombastic synthesizers and the no less than eight guitarists offering rockin' tunes and impressive solos.As expected from such an album there are lots of symphonic interludes to open the way for the upcoming grandiose music with the poetic lyrics, the sentimental passages and the monster parallels between guitars and keyboards for a flashy atmosphere.Moreover the mood ranges from ballad-esque, sweet themes with a deep song component to fine instrumental passages with symphonic lines, you can even hear to lots of organ runs and, yes, a harsichord in a couple of tracks, to build a bridge between the old and modern stylings.The result is far from complex but pretty convincing, most of the melodies are excellent and the tracks are basically tightened up to form long and emphatic arrangements.But the most interesting part comes at the album's farewell, the 18-min. title track is certainly a great music show along the lines of modern Neo Prog and flirting with the sound of ARENA and LANDMARQ, the AOR vibes are quite reduced and the track contains the finest guitar work of the album over a pounding keyboard atmosphere, fantastic stuff indeed.

As Darvill made his dream come true, he returned to music management, being the founder and chairman of one of the most well-known, prog-related music management companies, QEDG.

Nice mixture of ARENA/PALLAS/LANDMARQ-like furious and intense Neo Prog with the more orchestral side of AOR music.Great purchase for all fans of melodic Progressive Rock.

apps79 | 3/5 |


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